Death. It stalks you like the sky shields the sun in the freezing depths of winter. Every night, the sun and moon get closer and closer, until they finally meet. One day, the moon will collide with the sun causing a great explosion. When the grey moon crashes into the big ball of fire, the whole solar system will end up in flames.
I trudge over to my old wooden bed with my head hanging low. My delicate fingers grasp the light blue afghan as tightly as possible. But even now, large tears accumulate in my brown eyes and trickle down my face slowly. As the minutes go by, fewer and fewer tears fall. My mind keeps traveling back to the fact that I have no idea how to survive alone on the tiny island I once called home. Eventually, my food will run out, so I must get off of the island. The worst part of all of this is; deep down, I know that this whole thing is my fault.
My short brown hair is tied in a tight ponytail with only a few straggling hairs. As always, I have on a rather practical outfit: a plain cotton shirt and athletic shorts. My purple tennis shoes are tied in a tight knot with just the edge of my white ankle socks hanging out.
I face towards the window through an attempt to forget my worries. However, I can't see past the boarded up window. Why is my window boarded up? Even though none of my new life makes any sense, whatever happened 48 hours ago has changed my life for good.
48 HOURS EARLIER
BANG! BANG! BANG! The nail bends as it penetrates the wall. I hammer in the final wood plank to seal my window shut. My stomach turns as waves crash more rapidly than usual onto the rocks. The ocean has swelled up about six feet as the driving rain and wind smack onto my window again and again.
“Zoey! What on earth are you doing? You’ve woken Charlie up!” yells Mom, as she nurses Charlie, the newborn baby, back to sleep. Charlie quietly coos and laughs. His little tuft of brown hair waves in the crisp air.
“I figured out that there is a ninety percent chance of a hurricane, so I’m boarding up my room! That way I’m helping to take some of the work off of your hands!” I scream back, rushing downstairs to explain myself to my mom. Hurricanes have been threatening the island that I live on, Wakea, since the day I was born. Thankfully, I’ve never had to deal with a storm close to that intensity. Even so, I can understand how devastating it is to live through a destructive hurricane.
“The weathermen haven’t mentioned anything about a storm of any sort. They are the ones who study the weather daily, and are usually right. Not some thirteen year old who believes in crazy conspiracy theories,” Mom replies, crushing my spirits as always.
“Yeah but the weathermen can’t predict a hurricane until it’s almost here.” Mom’s never understood my love for math and science. I will love my mom day after day, but maybe sometimes she could put aside all of her skepticism and support the family. After all, I am her daughter!
I sigh heavily for now I can push the fact that it’s my fault away. It has to be my fault somehow, because otherwise I wouldn’t be left fully alone on a deserted island. I find the courage to step onto my tennis shoes and look around the shattered village. First I walk into the modern kitchen. The fact that the dark wood cabinets are all askew strikes me quickly. All of the lightbulbs are shattered with little shreds of glass lining the floor. In addition to that, debris is spread out all along our dark granite countertops. I try to ignore the kitchen’s appalling state and continue through my wrecked house, but it’s so hard.
I walk into my parent’s vacant room and sob, I just can’t help myself! My mom was a great mom, despite her inability to believe in me. I try to get ahold of myself and breathe. Still, I think ‘in and out, in and out,’ since that’s what I used to tell baby Charlie when he was coughing. I miss him as much as when he missed his blanket. I can just imagine his stubby little arms reaching towards his wool blanket. He would smile and laugh for a couple seconds, until his eyes filled with water and then the bomb went off. He’d cry as if the world were ending, but all I did was steal his blanket.
I slowly walk over to Charlie’s old wooden crib and rock it. Just the feeling of rocking the crib gives me a sense of security. It makes me feel like I’m not the only one left on this island. Although, my gut tells me otherwise.
I continue walking through the deserted house, when I pass through the family room. We’ve had some good times here, but unfortunately they’ll all probably be forgotten. I look at the brown leather couch and it reminds me of what exactly happened last night.
12 HOURS EARLIER
The wind whistles outside of our house as the four of us huddle together for warmth. Mom is cradling a crying Charlie in her long arms. Our house is shaking like the world is about to end. The violent hurricane that only I had prepared for is here, and it is bigger than even I expected.
“Zoey, I think it’s best if you go to your room and try to get some sleep.” Mom whispers into my ear. Only then can I see the worry in her eyes. We share a brief glance, her hazel eyes looking into my brown ones. Quickly, I nod and walk up the stairs. My feet carry me into bed as fast as I can go. Minutes later, I still lay awake in my bed, silently. The sounds of a hurricane are like the sounds of nails on a chalkboard; piercing my ears to no end.
I squint my eyes as I hear Charlie’s quick, loud shrieks and the shattering of many glass windows all around me as the rain water hits our house abruptly. Then, all I hear is the suttle sounding wind and nearby waves crashing against the rocks that line the blue ocean.
Bubbly tears emerge from my clenched eyes. Now, I have to face the harsh reality, all my friends and family are gone, completely gone. My eyes close to begin a good night’s sleep that will never happen. Not after tonight.
Remembering the last moments that we shared as a family together is heartbreaking. Now I know that sometimes it’s better to forget because the past can be just to painful. I can’t help but to sob again. Perhaps amnesia is a gift best left unopened forever.
I step outside of my annihilated house, hoping that other families are still happily together. However, no one was out and about, unlike usual.
I am utterly astonished by Wakea’s state. Looking from side to side, I notice how virtually everyone’s house is now a mountain of debris spread across the bright green grass. I look into each house scanning for some food, no one has food that I would want left. After scanning our neighbor’s house, I pause for a quick second to look at the outside of their demolished house. About half of the roof on the house has completely slid off of the building’s structure, exposing many wood planks in the inside of their house. As of now, the house has only three walls, the one facing me looks like it has been knocked down by some sort of wrecking ball. Inside, I see glass spread out all over the floor, with debris and wood planks that filled many missing parts of the house, sitting everywhere. The house is a shame to look at. I walk over to the next house, which looks just as bad, maybe even worse. The whole village is in shreds, and I feel like everyone is too.
I walk by house after house, browsing for food. Everyone’s food is spread all over the floor of every house. My family had a can of refried beans with an apple or two, but that will barely last me a day!
The rest of my day is spent surveying Wakea. I take a few breaks to grab an apple or two, but other than that, my day consisted of sneaking through houses peering around for any sign of food. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a sign of food anywhere.
I travel back to my house right before nightfall. Just before I tuck myself in, I rock Charlie’s crib again. It’s part of my nightly routine now. “Oh Charlie. I wish you were still with me. I love you so much.” I murmur quietly to myself. The crib feels so empty without the weight of a tiny baby. For a quick second, I imagine him looking up at me with his brown eyes.
I trot back over to my room and tuck myself in. My eyes close almost immediately, unlike last night.
When I wake up in the morning, I walk into the kitchen to have another of my apples, but all of the apples are gone from my snacks yesterday. I am stuck on an island with a single can of refried beans. Where did I go wrong?
I’m filled with overwhelming emotions, my mind is traveling from one area of thought to another, even crazier one. I know that I need to find a way off of Wakea, but I don’t even know which way is North! I need to find a plan and stick with it. You’d think more islanders would have nice boats, but there are very few. Maybe the problem is that I don’t know how to steer, let alone drive a boat. After all, I wouldn’t have the boat’s keys. I decide to just put the idea that I can boat off of Wakea aside and so then I try to think of another way.
I think of another way to get off the island in minutes, a way that I might actually be able to pull off: making a homemade raft. I know that the density needs to be less than 1 gram per milliliter in order for a raft to float on the ocean. I take two burnt logs, 11 one-inch boards, and some foam to create a raft. Because everyone’s house is destroyed, I find a lot of the parts to my raft just laying on the ground in random spots. After tying my raft together with an old rope, I step back to admire my creation. Admiring my raft is very difficult. My raft looks like it has seen it’s better days, in other words, it isn’t admirable. However, I figure that as long as it floats, I’m okay. I tie the raft to a metal pole using the extra rope so it won’t fly away as I sprint towards my house. Once I am inside my house, I grab a paddle and my last ration, a can of beans
My plan is to go to the nearest island, where people can help me. But I don’t know where to go, or how to get there. I throw my homemade raft into the water and I stand on it, shaking side to side. The raft floats easily. I have no idea which way to go in order to get to another island, but I leave that hurdle for later. I pick up my paddle and compass and start north.
Death is something so far away, yet so close. In the blink of an eye, death can end your life. Death is unavoidable, but you have to push away your troubles and look past it. The people who are successful in life are the ones who are able to look past death and move on. I miss my family, but I can’t go back. I was left with nothing and no one. I was left with 5,432 square feet of silence.